Jun 3, 2010

Saving Templates in MailChimp

Just a quick little tip for MailChimp customers on saving templates. We’ve noticed a lot of people are replicating old campaigns for each new newsletter (over and over), then stripping the content from the last newsletter, and then filling it with new content. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it can get sloppy sometimes if that original email that you’re replicating contains bad code (such as code that was copy-pasted from Microsoft Word) which begets even more bad code on each replication.

Much safer to simply use the "Save this email as a template" link:


MailChimp will take the campaign you’re currently working on in the editor, and save it to your templates area…

So later, when it’s time to build a new campaign, you’ll see that spiffy template as an option:


Just select the template, and fill it with content:


Years ago, building templates and editing content were in two totally separate areas of MailChimp. It was very much a "web design" paradigm. You keep your CSS and template files over here, and then you build content over there. Worked great for web designers, but not-so-great for everyone else.

So the current paradigm is more like Microsoft Word. You just work on documents, and if you want, you can choose to "Save as template:"


Get into the habit of "Save As Template"

It’s not easy to remember, but I’ve gotten into the habit of saving templates often. If I make any kind of tweak whatsoever to my newsletters, I save it as a new template just in case I want it in the future.

For example, I originally started with a 2-column template for my MonkeyWrench newsletter:


For one of my issues, I decided to take away the side column (I think I wanted to do a video-only issue). So I made a new template that only had one big column:


I immediately saved that 1-column email as a template, just in case I wanted to use something like that in the future.

Which I did, for a prize notification email that I had to send in a hurry. Glad I saved that template! All I had to do was swap out the header graphic, and I was done.

Later, when I had more time, I designed a new email (this time using more of a postcard layout) to notify our 2nd round prize winners, and you know I definitely saved that as a new template too:


BTW, did you notice the tiny little icons underneath the template thumbnails?


If you click the little green "down" arrow, that lets you download the HTML code for that email template.

This is actually a really powerful tool, because if you’re good at HTML, you can open this file and use our HTML email template language to modify editable regions, editable images, repeatable sections, and more for your clients.

Once you’ve got that template all coded, you can get to your "My Templates" area directly from MailChimp’s Dashboard:


Then you’d choose the option to "code custom templates:"


And then copy-paste your custom template code into the interface:


Years ago, I actually wrote an article about the "7 types of email templates every business needs." It’s filled with old, broken links, but the content is still good imho. I’ve been sending emails from MailChimp since 2001, and have consistently needed those templates.